December 17, 2021 | Sydney Flames news


The Brydens Sydney Uni Flames have a lot of pent-up energy going into this game. Last week’s rematch against the Canberra Capitals was cancelled due to a positive COVID case from a UC Capitals team member so the Flames are going into their second game this season away, against the Townsville Fire.

Star point guard Shyla Heal played for the Fire last season, Heal told Flames media on Wednesday that Townsville are “coming after me”, in Heal’s first game back in Townsville since she signed with the Flames in the offseason.

Townsville’s roster largely stayed similar, so there will be a lot of former teammates looking to make a statement. As well as her former coach Shannon Seebohm, who was an assistant coach for Flames coach Shane Heal when he coached the Kings.

“Out of all the teams, our style is most similar to Townsville,” Shyla said.

“So it will be a good game and we are really excited.”

The Flames will be without star import and 10th overall pick in the 2021 WNBA Draft Stephanie Watts, who suffered a season-ending knee injury during the week. She was the leading scorer in the Flames’ first game with 16 points.

Going into this game coach Shane Heal warned that the team will need to step up without Watts.

“Other players will now need to step up as we look to take on Townsville and then Melbourne [Boomers] who are two of the league’s best teams,” Heal said.

The Flames have a lot to scout for against the Fire. All-WNBL season teamer Lauren Nicholson scored 24 points in their first game against the Adelaide Lighting while import Monique Billings and last season’s Sixth Woman of the Year Zitina Aokuso both had double-doubles.

While WNBL expert Megan Hustwaite said in the Flames’ WNBL season preview that Fire guard Steph Reid could be due for a breakout season.

“But I think Steph Reid is ready to take her WNBL career to a new level,” Hustwaite said.

The Fire are clearly talented, but so are the Flames with recently named Opals Shyla Heal and Keely Froling and 5th overall pick in the WNBA Draft Chelsea Dungee.

Flames media spoke with head coach Shane Heal to breakout what the keys are to this game.

What do you expect to see from Shannon Seebohm’s coaching against his former player Shyla Heal? 

“It goes far deeper than that, I know him really well and he knows me really well,” Heal said.

“We have similar sort of philosophies and obviously he knows Shyla well and he’s a great coach, one of the best in the WNBL. They are going to be really tough, it’s a huge challenge for us but I can’t wait.”


What are the keys to the game? 

“There is a lot of keys because they are a great team,” Heal said.

“When you look at [Lauren] Nicholson, she’s one of the best players in the competition, she’s obviously got to be a key. When you look at [Monique] Billings and how good she’s playing, Zitina [Aokuso] is playing great basketball.

“They have really good depth and play well as a team, there is a lot of challenges for us there’s probably not just one or two.”


The Flames play in Townsville against the Fire on Saturday, December 18th, 7.30 pm (AEDT) streaming on Kayo.